Sulking has always hurt me, causing considerable pains in my throat and around my forehead. I have never remembered to ask anyone if they feel the same things when they sulk. But then I have always seemed to have the weirdest symptoms in my family anyway. Like, no one else I know has tummy pains when they eat their first meal of the day. No one else has to swirl drinks in their mouth to really “taste” them before swallowing. No one else likes thick fruit juices like mango or guava.
My earliest memories of sulking seem to be of Sunday evenings as a six or seven-year-old, after weaving my hair in preparation for school on Mondays. Read the rest of this entry
Singing greeted us as we climbed out of the combi. I reached for my mother’s hand and she squeezed her fingers between mine. As the combi roared away, we paused in the shade of the bus shelter for her to regain her breath. Mama closed her eyes and smiled.
‘Oh, my child,’ she said. ‘Can you hear the voices? They sound like angels.’
We walked down the road, taking a few small steps at a time with long rests in between, so Mama didn’t tire. As we rounded the corner, we saw the church, and I sighed in relief.
The Church of New Life was alive! Read the rest of this entry
This is the first of the epistles I promised myself I would write. I wish to preempt what anxieties you may soon have and, perhaps, anger too. But this letter was torn out of me by the same force that forestalls your arrival. The events now unfolding in the country seem to have eclipsed the turbulent relationships I have had with women, women I’d hoped would nurture you into a being, into that priceless gem that I shall never forsake.
I will start with them, the women. I will start with the one I named Baby. She’s named after you because she did things like you soon will: fragile, quick to tears, she was a babbler, too. No, she didn’t totter; she was obsessed with putting on airs, and the gait of a cat. We parted ways. I know that you wouldn’t be impressed by her as mother.
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Splat! This humongous globule of spit landed on the hot grey tarred road under my bus window. I felt my facial muscles contract as microscopic drops sprayed my face through the window but I was forewarned about this sputum mixed with streaks of yellow green mucus. I had heard the scraping and coughing from afar wondering what being could be making that god-awful noise but I still turned my face, craned my neck towards the retching and I watched in disgust as it was sucked and racked through that scrawny neck, I watched as it landed noisily on the road.
This sputum seemed at home on the dusty road in the midst of nylon wrappers, torn BRT tickets, sucked dry oranges, and egg shells. All discarded like this sputum that had tried to cling but its haggard owner had walked away from. He had brushed the slimy dribble, the remnant of the sputum off his cracked lips before it dropped on to his grey beard, and then wiped the back of his hand on his dirty shirt.
I saw slippers, boots, shoes come into my line of sight. They walked by it, stomped through it, tiptoed round it or simply stepped over it. I watched as it stuck to the soles of shoes, that sputum. They took and took of it until it disappeared from sight.
The policemen tried to open the door in turns and as we already knew, it wouldn’t open. They went round peered through the windows; unable to see anything they came back to meet us at the front door.
‘Officers we explained to you that we have tried everything. Just break the door please and let us get out of this place.’ I burst out unable to restrain myself.
They glared at me, the stockier one among the police officers took the initiative, went all the way back, lunged forward, lifted his right leg and hit the door with all his strength. The door came crashing down to everyone’s surprise. It now explained how armed robbers broke into houses effortlessly.
We waited to see if anyone would come out from the shadows. When no one did, we rushed into the room including our maiguard, Aminu. At the last count we were ten as Aminu’s wife and another maiguard and his wife from the next compound joined us.
In the centre of that room, sprawled on the Persian rug beside the long settee, we saw her. She could have been mistaken as sleeping. A faint foul odor pervaded the atmosphere. On the side stool at the edge of the settee was a half full glass of water and empty polythene bags used by the hospitals to put drugs for patients.
Everyone clasped their hands across their chest and made some ‘ahs ‘and ‘ewos’. I busied myself searching for something. I lifted the pillow and sure enough it was there. Read the rest of this entry
“The future of this planet depends on women.” – H.E. Kofi Annan, former Secretary General, United Nations
Mr. Annan is clear in his message; he advocates that women demand two things: one, that they take their place in the leadership, development and restructuring of their societies regardless of male subordination, gender bias, discrimination, laws, religious and ethnic norms and two, since the future started yesterday, women are already late in creating a more balanced world where women, and not ghosts, are living, and so they must rise up to every challenge. There is no time for ‘lying in state’.
Dictionary.com defines ‘protocol’ as the customs and regulations dealing with diplomatic formality, precedence and etiquette. It can also be, in a larger sense, an agreement between states. The origin of the rights movement began between 1895 and 1900. It is said to be in conformity with fact, reason, truth or some standard or principle. It is also, in a broader sense, the complex of individuals or organized groups opposing change in a liberal direction and usually advocating maintenance of the established social, political or economic order, sometimes by authoritarian means. (Dictionary.com) Read the rest of this entry
Hell is other people. This is true. I’m probably paraphrasing somebody smarter than me when I say this, a philosopher maybe. Someone else said, you carry your hell within you and this is true too. So, either in solitude or a crowd, as long as you are alive, the feeling of being in hell is a distinct possibility.
What truly gets to me, though, is how compact you can become around other people. You may be all sorts of things, witty, free and interesting, but you are nullified, your potential cancelled out, fractionated into a distilled version of who you are around others. Pulled into an orbit, you become useful for only a small set of things, fitting into a list of other people they know, in a hierarchy of value you weren’t even aware you were auditioning for. So you remain stuck in a role that for as long as you exist and come into contact with each other, will continue to play out. Hell is not an inferno; it is a frozen sea. I am locked within myself, connected to no one, frozen from the core of me right up to my eyes, behind them. Dead.
I am sitting at my breakfast table as I write this, and just opposite me, riveted by colouring books and Golden Morn, sit my husband and his son. I say his son, as though I didn’t carry him and birth him. I did. The thing is he was lost to me as soon as I emptied him from my womb. The moment my son landed in his fathers arms, they bonded and shut me out. It has been like that ever since, them over there, across a gulf and then me, with my iced over soul.
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My childhood memories of death and funerals are one long stretch of fear. Each time someone died in the village, we children would be hard put to it by fear. The belief in the village back then was that people who died became evil ‘muo’ which kept wandering about the neighbourhood with the intent of harming any who would see them. And the village folk were never short of spine chilling tales of this or that person who encountered a dead relative and became unconscious. There were even stories of first sons whose dead fathers had slapped them for participating in something during another’s funeral rites that they had denied them or failed to perform during theirs.
It was not just the issue of seeing these dead people that instilled such unnerving fear in us but the supposed manner of their appearance, how they were supposed to look as ‘muo’. Some were said to have more than one head, others would have iroko high legs that raised their massive heads with the single forehead-located eye into the clouds. Long nails that appeared gnawed at would replace the fingers that they had before their transition and the being would be enveloped in a bluish mist.
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I come out from the dream clutching my neck, my mouth open in a soundless scream, and I don’t know where I am. I look out into the blackness that fills this place. It is a thick, malignant black that looks like it could kill any light. I can still feel it throbbing in my neck, the bottle the mad man had stuck in it, and so I cannot take my hand away. I blink, trying to make out a wall, a window, but the darkness won’t let me. So I close my eyes, take deep breaths and count the numbers off in my head till the pain stops. At forty I can take my hand from my neck.
I open my eyes and I remember where I am. The darkness hasn’t given way, but the pain in my neck is gone now so I can hear his gentle snoring. It was the last thing I heard before I fell asleep last night, that whisper of a snore that had begun almost as soon as he’d rolled off me. I grope on the floor around me in the dark. When I find my phone I press a button for light. It’s three forty-five. I slide off the mattress and to the floor and notice that my head is pounding. I crawl onto last night’s condom just as I reach my hand bag. It sticks to my knee and I brush it off with an impatient motion. Still holding my phone for light, I rummage through my bag till I find my lighter and pack of cigarettes. There’s only one left. It will have to do till he wakes up. I light it with shaky hands. Read the rest of this entry
My eyes popped open.
I reach out for my phone and jumped up with a start, it’s 6:00AM…
Everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong this morning. My alarm failed to alert me, and so I woke up late, I tumbled out of bed like a drunk man and staggered in the direction of the kitchen, only to slam my face on the wall. I reached out for the light switch by the door, it failed to come on, It was only then I remembered that Nepa had come the previous day and cut off our power supply for refusing to pay the last bill which they had deliberately hiked up. Knuckle heads.
I never learnt how to turn on the generator simply because I didn’t have the energy to pull the generator rope, besides, there wasn’t any fuel.
I groped my way around the kitchen, and out of memory reached out my right hand and felt for the counter, then the electric stand where we keep the matchbox. I knocked off some cups and cutlery, I finally found it, lit a candle and proceeded to fry some plantains and eggs for my child and pack her lunch box. Read the rest of this entry